Breaking: Public impeachment hearings to begin next week; Plus: Yovanovitch "not aware" of any quid pro quo policy

Breaking: Public impeachment hearings to begin next week; Plus: Yovanovitch "not aware" of any quid pro quo policy

Does this mean we will see an end to the traditional 12:15 pm ET leak session with reporters? Say it ain’t so. Starting next week, House Democrats will move from [kinda-]closed-door depositions to public testimony in their impeachment inquiry, Adam Schiff announced earlier today:

Bill Taylor, acting Ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau, are scheduled to be the first two witnesses to give public testimony on Nov. 13. The European and Eurasian Bureau is responsible for six countries, including Ukraine.

Former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch is scheduled for public testimony on Friday, Nov. 15.

Presumably, these are the best witnesses Schiff has, which … raises questions, actually. Not one of these three witnesses would have enough connection to Donald Trump to establish any personal demand for a quid pro quo. The most sympathetic of these witnesses would be Yovanovitch, who appears to have been fairly poorly treated by Rudy Giuliani for a career diplomat, but even she can’t sustain what Schiff is selling as the reason for impeachment.

In her deposition with Schiff’s combined committee inquiry, the quid pro quo issue only came up once, and only to say she knew nothing of any such policy:

Lee Zeldin then noted that Taylor’s concern arose from reading a Politico report about the Trump administration’s possible motives in Ukraine policy, not from any orders he had received from the White House. Yovanovitch furthermore didn’t develop any hint of an “unofficial policy” until the texts were released by the committee a few weeks ago. Zeldin asked her if that was how she formed that suspicion, to which she answered: “I think that I probably should decline to answer that question, because I was not in the policy world at that point.”

That’s not much fodder for an inquiry, let alone an impeachment. It’s possible that Schiff thinks he can build his case by rolling it out slowly, but … that’s what the depositions were supposed to do. That should have allowed Schiff to drill quickly into impeachable acts in the public hearings. Instead, Schiff’s starting lineup consists of three hearsay witnesses with three degrees of separation from Trump.

Nonetheless, mark your calendars for the C-SPAN broadcasts to come. And be glad your lunch hour isn’t going to be spent on Leak Watch any longer.

Update: Consider this too about Yovanovitch’s testimony. If the White House was using back channels to demand a quid pro quo, her Ukrainian contacts would have asked her about it at some point, one imagines. If she was “not aware” of any such policy, it stands to reason that it didn’t get pressed very hard, if indeed it was pressed at all.

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